University employees in court over mass layoffs


Some six senior staff members who lost their jobs when the troubled Kenya Methodist University closed some of its campuses and conducted mass layoffs are in a battle with the higher learning institution to save their jobs.

The university terminated the employment of 150 of its workers and shut down its campuses in Nyeri, Nakuru and Kisii as it restructured operations to improve competitiveness.

But some of those affected by the restructuring are not prepared to go down without a fight.

In an urgent application filed at the Employment and Labour Relations court in Nyeri, Doris Kairuthi, Josephine Mugure, Alfred Micheni, Peter Maina, Mercy Minoo and Fridah Nkirote are accusing the institution of conducting a witch hunt under the false pretense of declaring their positions redundant.

The six served in the university in the period between 2006 and 2017 in different senior positions in administration, human resource, marketing, student welfare and accounting.

They are asking for Justice Byram Ongaya’s intervention to compel the university to revoke their termination and disclose the criteria used to determine which employees would lose their jobs.

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“The university did not undertake a proper evaluation and assessment of the job environment before arriving at the decision.

“The decision is informed by other considerations other than our services being redundant,” they said in court through lawyer Lucy Kairuthi.

In one of the termination letters signed by Vice-Chancellor Prof Henry Kiriamiti presented in court, KeMU said it had reached the decision due to the dynamics affecting the education sector in the country and to enhance its effectiveness and competitiveness.

Those affected have up to June 23 to clear from the institution and will be eligible for payment for leave days not taken and a severance pay for 15 days for each year of service.

But the affected employees are against losing their jobs on account that the process was flawed and unprocedural.

Doris Kairuthi said in her affidavit that none of them were engaged in any deliberations relating to the process of declaring their positions redundant nor was any explanation provided on what considerations were taken.

Further, she said, the varsity had advertised some of the positions such as Human Resource Officer which had been declared redundant.

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“It is our belief that the issue of redundancy is merely a red herring introduced to disguise the proper reasoning behind a mass lay off,” she said.

Justice Byram Ongaya will hear the case on June 15.

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